The virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel.
and shall name him Emmanuel.
This verse appears not once but twice in the readings for Mass today. In the first reading from Isaiah, Ahaz doesn't want to ask the Lord for a sign. God gets frustrated and tells Ahaz, through Isaiah he will give him this sign. I wonder how long Ahaz rolled around on the floor laughing. I wonder how shocked he was when he looked down (or up... guess we can't know for sure) and saw that it actually happened. Ahaz probably thought this was just some ridiculous joke that God, or Isaiah, was playing on him. Seriously?! Doesn't God know the definition of "virgin"? Pretty sure that's inconsistent with the concept of being pregnant. But centuries later, that's exactly what happened.
Then there was Mary. I can't speak for anyone else, but if an angel appeared and told ME that I was going to have a baby... I would seriously consider checking myself into an institution. The conversation would probably go something like this:
Angel: Hi Rose, you're going to have a baby.
Me: HAHAHAH... that's funny.
Angel: No, seriously, you're going to have a baby.
Me: Umm... I'm pretty sure you're talking to the wrong girl.
Angel: (checks note from God) Rose, 23, American, living in Budapest, Hungary?
Angel: Yep, that's you. Congratulations. By the way, He's going to be God's Son.
Me: With all due respect, Mr. Angel Sir, you've got the wrong person. Even though you don't have a physical body, you've got to be aware of what it takes to be pregnant, right?
Angel: Don't worry about it - this is God's Son.
Me: What am I gonna tell my parents/friends?! 'Rose is pregnant?!?!' They'll never believe this story. And I don't even have a boyfriend I can "blame" it on.
Angel: OK, OK, enough already. Will you do it or not? I don't have all day, God needs an answer.
Me: (sarcastic) Well, apparently, I won't "do it" (sincere) but... since this is either real and from God or just a really random dream and it won't happen, I guess, sure, why not. (thinks) Wow, I must have eaten something really strange.
couple of weeks laterMe: Wait... that was real? Oh dear... this will be a problem. Hey, God, you're gonna get me through this, right?
God: Umm... of course. I wouldn't have put you in this situation if I didn't have a plan.
Me: Phew, well that's a relief.
But, if Mary said anything like that it hasn't been recorded. I wonder if she had heard the story of Ahaz - a bedtime story maybe - and remembered it. Of course, I'm also not sinless. Maybe that has something to do with it.
Finally, in today's Gospel reading from the first chapter of Matthew, Joseph gets pulled into the secret. Can you imagine? Your fiance shows up and tells you she's pregnant and that God is the father. That can't have made him feel very good. None of the options look promising. Probably, she is just trying to protect some other guy from town by not naming the father. But then, Mary's never seemed to be that kind of girl. And she does seem really sincere. On the other hand, if this is really God's doing, how am I supposed to compete with Him? It's no wonder he had decided to divorce Mary quietly. He didn't want to deal with this mess but he also didn't want Mary hurt. Enter Angel in dream. Joseph probably knew the story of Ahaz as well. That didn't make it any less awkward when it actually happened... involving him. But still, he trusted. He took Mary into his home, he cared for her and later Jesus, provided for them, protected them -- how strange to be the protector of God. His dreams and goals had to be given up in favor of this larger plan. He probably wanted children of his own. An extended trip to Egypt wasn't likely on his to-do list. The questions after his kid got lost in Jerusalem. And if anything went wrong, with two sinless people in the family, it was automatically his fault. I'm sure it couldn't have been easy as he looked at his friends with all their children surrounding them, seeing them with their wives, wondering what would have happened if one of them had been engaged to Mary when this happened. Yet, through all of it, he trusted. What an example.